Skip to main content

tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  December 2, 2014 8:00pm-10:01pm EST

8:00 pm
outside of school and said stay here the present will come and talk to the pool. i said no their life cameras in the cafeteria. he'll want to scare the children but he did go into that cafeteria. he said it's an apparent terrorist attack and i must return to washington. we rushed to the plane and we were pushed aboard quickly. the door slammed and then the pentagon was hit. representatives of the nfl, major league baseball the nba and nhl talk today about what
8:01 pm
pro-sports leagues are doing to address the issue of domestic violence. from professional athletes unions also testified. his hearing at the senate commerce committee is 2.5 hours. it begins with committee chair senator jay rockefeller. [inaudible conversations] >> the hearing will come to order. sports have always played a huge role culturally and otherwise in the united states. just last week on thanksgiving millions of americans were probably paying more attention to the tv sets than their turkeys. it's part of our culture deal.
8:02 pm
athletes have become icons in america. i remember at the time my 10-year-old son had this gigantic poster of raid nitschke that took up half his room. that is the way it is done. he is now 45 and that is the way it was then and that's how it is now. major-league athletes serve as role models for youth. generations have grown up watching sporting events with their parents. it's a family affair and game day traditions have been handed down for generations to the next. it's an amazing american phenomenon. kids wearing their jerseys of their favorite players. they have their posters and the collector cards most of which are not charged for but it's an amazing figure and it's one that
8:03 pm
we want to talk about. given this reality i hope we can skip how domestic violence is a larger societal problem and not unique to sports. we ought to get that. you should know that this committee, it's not known by most but this committee has complete and absolute jurisdiction and that has oversight over all sports at all levels and we have exercised it with college sports, the ncaa and we are doing it through the courtesy of your presence. of course it's a societal problem and is a grievous one and it has come upon us really fast in terms of public awareness and the coverage of it. but as a nation we have a responsibility to collectively
8:04 pm
and aggressively address this terrible problem. we all do, you, we. but given the high-profile nature of professional sports when a celebrity athlete is charged with committing a domestic violence it uniquely reverberates there are society in fascinating ways. and because professional sports enjoy unique benefits bestowed upon them by the public such as public funds for stadiums, exemptions from antitrust laws it's entirely proper for this committee to focus its attention on how professional sports leagues and their unions are handling the problem of domestic violence within their ranks. at today's hearing i want to learn what the four major professional sports leagues and their players associations are doing to address this problem
8:05 pm
and we really do want to find out. if you are developing uniform policies that will effectively inappropriately punish players who commit what are criminal acts against women and children. i want to learn what leagues can do with their existing authorities, the nfl comes to mind on that, and what must be the subject of new collective bargaining which may be more popular with some ban with others. i also want to be clear domestic violence is not a problem unique to the nfl. the nfl has made most of the headlines in recent months for shocking and high-profile incidents in for that week's controversial response. all of the professional sports leagues represented here today however have a problem with athletes or employees who have committed violent criminal acts, all of them and i would like to
8:06 pm
give them to you if you try to deny it. until recently that leagues records have not been good. there's a long list of players in the nfl, nba, nhl and major league baseball who have been charged with and in some cases convicted of domestic violence and the leagues have done little or nothing in response. in fact the press has reported that a culture of silence within the leagues often prevents victims from reporting their abuse to law enforcement. this has to change. there are reasons for that, financial etc., the culture of silence in most cases the athlete being male, the wife doesn't want to give up the salary and all of these things come into it. but it has to stop and that is what we are here for, to talk about it and to move forward.
8:07 pm
my very excellent cochair here senator thune. >> thank you mr. chairman for holding this hearing to discuss the issue of violence in sports. i had a 10-year-old kid you are talking about growing up that aspired to and idolize professional athletes and i grew up in a small town in south dakota of 800 people where we didn't get a newspaper until the following day and you didn't get boxscores, got wind scores to bali or baseball players. we got one television channel so we had cbs affiliate in some places that's true and so i got to watch the green bay packers twice a year. that was the two times they played the minnesota vikings in the divisional but that was my team and because we only had one television station that's all we had. we didn't have a lot of the
8:08 pm
apparel that they now have so i took a white t-shirt and blue felt pen and put 32 on there in the l.a. dodgers with sandy koufax. i worry that my younger brother was a big bart starr fan. i tell you all that in that background to indicate all of us in this country have a tremendous admiration for people who succeed at that level. it isn't credible influence and power that people who are successful in professional sports have on young people in this country and young people are watching whether they like it or not and are the people who have those positions are role models. certainly we hope good ones. i just wanted to, that's why you think is domestic violence issue that has been brought to our attention here of late been entered into the national discussion is so important in the father of two daughters. i found the graphic security camera footage of running back
8:09 pm
ray rice and his fiancée to the sickening like so many others did across this country. the nfl's first -- initial response was completely inadequate, two-game suspension was a paltry sentence for such violent behavior. at best the nfl failed to understand the scope of severity of the incident and worse waiting to suspend mr. rice after the elevator video was made public. it sent a message about how they handle domestic violence. as you mentioned this isn't unique to professional football. i am troubled by the remarks of commissioner of baseball that seemed to downplay the extent of the problem. rather than minimizing the issue i believe the correct approach is for the leagues to engage in meaningful talks in players unions and stakeholders to ensure player conduct policies are sufficient when such acts of violence are carried out in that
8:10 pm
may mean renegotiating contact -- contract provisions and strengthening penalties where appropriate. questions as due process determining if when and how a player should be disciplined or important part of this conversation. this is a conversation that needs to take place because sadly this issue isn't going away simply while i'm courage to hear many phillies represent here today. violence of any kind particularly against women and children is simply unacceptable. it's my hope today's hearing will shed light on what professional sports leagues are doing to address these issues and if this many believe the current policies and national sports leagues are insufficient to address these concerns an adequate and a quotable manner and i hope today's hearing will put pressure on the leagues of the players unions to make whatever changes are necessary to ensure such acts of violence are taking care of swiftly and the perpetrators are disciplined appropriately. mr. chairman pass where the user
8:11 pm
jurisdiction in this area to examine a number of issues ranging from steroids in sports to protecting children from concussion so often when we turn our attention to issues involving professional sports questions are raised about whether it's the best use of our time and resources. for instance 2000 by this committee held a series of hearings to examine the policies of major league baseball concerning the use of steroids. i wasn't on the committee at that time but i'm aware of some of the headlines these hearings generated including those that called the steroid hearings of wasted time and money. as a result of this hearing something remarkable happened. major league baseball turned a corner from its so-called steroid and implemented a series of sweeping reforms we are still witnessing connectivity stability shine shine a light on problems in the world of sports to induce real and meaningful change and we have been able to do so without changes in federal law. i believe this hearing is important to questions surrounding how professional sports leagues address domestic violence are valid ones.
8:12 pm
professional athletes in the teams they play are for better or worse role models and opinion makers. what they do to combat this unacceptable behavior can help set an example especially for the youngsters who grew up watching them. while i think the witnesses for being here today and sharing your testimony i'm disappointed that we commissioners are not here to speak for their sports. it's also important with the noble exception of the nba players association that of the other players associations are not here today. these are issues that are not and should not be partisan and may very well be appropriate for the committee to revisit this topic in the next congress to assess the project -- progress in the associations of dealing with domestic violence. mr. chairman thank you. >> thank you very much senator. now we are going to have something we don't usually do but we are going to today. the chair of the relevant subcommittee claire mccaskill will speak for two minutes and
8:13 pm
will be followed by senator heller. >> thank you mr. chairman for holding this important hearing. the bright light of public attention needs to be turned on at a very high wattage on a problem that exists in the shadows and a very dark and scary place. with great power and influence comes great responsibility and no one will debate that probably the leagues you represent here today have more power and influence in our country than maybe any other institutions i can think of. professional sports must do better job of setting an example to young people and victims of domestic violence who face difficult decisions as they struggle with holding their abusers accountable. professional sports with very few exceptions have done little to hold those who commit this crime accountable. perpetrators know that if they
8:14 pm
can only get their victims to recant, refuse to cooperate, threaten their financial future, threaten the future of their families financial status or put them on an airplane to venezue venezuela, if they can accomplish those things, then nothing will happen. there has been little or no effort to independently get the facts, rather just use the predictable outcome that very few who are abused will have an adequate support system within the families of the professional sports teams where they exist to get the support to come forward and hold their abusers accountable. and so by and large professional sports teams have relied on the
8:15 pm
failure of the criminal justice system to get convictions as their excuse as to why no players were very few players have been held accountable. i'm anxious to hear how you view your responsibility to independently gather the facts and hold the professional athletes that commit these crimes accountable with sanctions within your leagues. thank you mr. chairman. >> senator heller. >> thank you mr. chairman. i appreciate the committee's attention to this important issue. i didn't realize until this hearing we had three television channels. we were able to watch our warriors are san francisco 49ers and the giants play. i know there are some here in this room that may question why congress is involved in this issue but i would like to explain why. every minute in united states 20 people experience domestic violence. last night more than 20,000 phonecalls were made to domestic
8:16 pm
violence hotlines. one in three women will experience physical violence for my partner sometime in their lifetime. children exposed to domestic violence are more likely to commit domestic violence later in life. as a husband and father of two wonderful daughters this is simply unacceptable in something that must be changed. these numbers are just victims, their people. their wives, mothers daughters sisters and friends. a witness before his represent the most popular and commercially successful sports leagues in the world. their star players are household names in role models for fans of aspiring young athletes. the past few years we have witnessed truly shocking acts from some of these public figures. just as concerning is how the league handles these situations and how the unions protect these players. it's very clear to me and in getting these players back on the field was more important than addressing incidents of sexual assault, domestic violence or child abuse.
8:17 pm
the links in the unions brushed these problems aside and left it to the courts. only when the video surfaced when an nfl player landed on his fiancée to the collective conscious of america change their approach. i can only imagine what survivors feel like today. as i wrote in a letter earlier this year to the nfl commissioner roger goodell by waiting until a video of a shocking act of domestic violence became public they effectively condone the actions of this player. i believe the same holds true for the players association and in fact i don't think you can understand the full scope of the problem. ray rice decision was overturned in and the nfl players association said this decision is a victory for disciplinary process that is fair and transparent. this union will always stand up to the fight of due process were players. this is not about due process. this is not about collective bargaining agreements that we do
8:18 pm
not like any more want to change. this is not about any type of labor issues you may have with the league. this is about helping to stop a terrible problem in society. wives mothers sisters daughters and friends are being beaten. when you are worried more about getting back on the field instead of stopping abuse your priorities are out of order. instead of addressing the problem league policies and codes of conduct and the survivors of domestic violence have been left behind. there is no place in any society for these horrifying acts of domestic violence and sexual assault. our nation's professional sports leagues have unique ability to make a difference. the american people need to step up and this committee wants to know what you are going to do to take a stand. thank you. >> thank you senator. we can go now to the witness list and express our appreciation for your being he
8:19 pm
here. we will start with mr. troy vincent the executive president of the national football league. >> mr. chairman members the committee my name is troy vincent and executive vice president of football operations at the national football league. i'm pleased to discuss the work we have underway at the nfl to address conduct standards including domestic violence and sexual assault did want to set the high standards for personal behavior in order to meet the expectations of our fans, players and those of the general broader public. in 2007 commissioner goodell issued an enhanced policy for league employees by this recent events made clear we have not kept our standards current with their own values. we have made mistakes. we have been humbled. we accept the criticism we have received and we are committed to being part of the solution. we will get this right.
8:20 pm
mr. chairman ag committee when i consider these issues i bring the perspective far beyond an nfl executive who domestic violence was a way of life in my home growing up in my brother and i watched helplessly numerous times as my mother was beaten and knocked unconscious as we dialed 911. we saw how she struggled to seek help and find the courage to say no more. the complexities accompanying this violence remain real in my life today. i'm committing my life to work for the last 20 years as an advocate against domestic violence to keep others from experiencing this lifetime pain. i relate to the 20 million victims, survivors, domestic violence, sexual abuse in every community of our great nation. in addition i have the honor and a privilege of playing in the
8:21 pm
national football league for 15 years. 12 years of those i served as a union official. for those years i served as the players association president. i support the interest of all players in the fair process. i let these efforts. i know the majority of our former players are terrific husbands fathers and men who have made incredible contributions to their communities. mr. chairman players know the weak standards are not labor issues in our management issues. there are issues that concern everyone. in 2007 the league and the players union work closely together collaborating to develop a personal conduct policy. it was part of those efforts and today just as in the past the league has invited the nfl pa along with other experts to assist us in setting the high standards. the nfl has taken a number of steps to improve how we respond
8:22 pm
to the incidence of domestic violence, child abuse and sexual assault. first, the nfl has undertaken a thorough review of our personal conduct policy. having consulted with over 100 leading experts across a broad range of subjects or goal was to set clear rules to govern accountability for misconduct, to establish a fair process for players and employee discipline that we will create a conduct committee responsible for review and recommend changes to the personal conduct policy going forward. experts will continue to advise both a conduct committee and the commissioner silly i hours have the right voices at the table on both educational and disciplinary work. second, we are deploying a comprehensive mandatory educational program for more than 5000 men and women in the nfl family. our goal is to ensure that everyone understands and has the full scope of this behavior and
8:23 pm
is familiar with the warning signs associated with these crimes. education also promotes prevention. how individuals can appropriately and safely help those at risk is another key focus area of our education. third, we are trained in critical response teams to help prevent and respond quickly to family violence and sexual assault including safety, medical, legal and financial support. fourth, we are supporting leading domestic violence and sexual assault awareness and prevention groups including the national domestic violence hotline and the national sexual violence resource center. fifth and finally we are raising awareness of this critical iss issue. domestic violence, child abuse and sexual assault in collaboration with the no more campaign and the joyful heart foundation, the nfl a public
8:24 pm
service amount -- announcement and finally we are promoting programs for those who play, coach and manage our game at all levels including age-appropriate character development healthy relationship education as well as dating violence, domestic violence child abuse and sexual assault education. we have learned a great deal from our mistakes and by listening to experts and domestic violence and child abuse and the sexual assault communities the more we have listened the more we have become aware of these complexities both of the problem and the solution. we are working hard to balance issues of a fair process with the goal of preventing and punishing these behaviors. mr. chairman in the committee, we believe that wearing the uniform of an nfl player is a privilege and it is not a right. every member of the nfl community must embrace this
8:25 pm
unique leadership role that we play in our society and the trust that you placed in us. we look forward to working with the committee to advance these goals. i know we all share. thank you for this opportunity and mr. chairman i thank you for your lifetime service in this area. >> thank you mr. branson. that was excellent testimony and honest and it's a good beginning. thank you. ms. teri patterson, deputy deputy managing director of national football league players association. can you put that closer? >> good afternoon mr. chairman and members of the committee. as stated my name is subpar and they serve as the deputy managing director and special counsel of nfl players association that might represent
8:26 pm
on the panel today at. we greatly appreciate the committee's interest in the critical issue of domestic violence. we always welcome the opportunity to meet with any members of the committee to assess the issues concerning our sports. the leadership of elected officials brought change to our sport for example in the area of concussions. we have worked with and supportive members of this committee as they continue to push for better standards to protect athletes and football on all levels. we are here to address concerns about domestic violence in professional sports. just to be clear neither our players are the nfl pa condoned domestic violence in any way. we understand the significance of her position both society at large and more importantly for the families of individuals involved. any incident of domestic violence by any player is one too many but it does not and should now reflect on the overwhelming majority of our members who have contributed to their community in countless
8:27 pm
ways. this week for example you will see players in the community with many of your constituents and their children as part of the play 60 campaign. we believe that a comprehensive system of education, prevention and intervention counseling will help us find solutions for lowering the incidences of domestic violence that present themselves each and every year. specifically relate to her sports we believe those tools combined with fair and appropriate discipline is the best way to achieve the goals of preventing abbott -- incidence of domestic violence. unfortunately we have seen repeated instances where discipline under personal conduct policy of nfl unilaterally by the commission has failed to get us closer to those solutions. we have seen on more than one occasion when disciplinary matters are left solely to the nfl the process mismanage in the end result has not been able to withstand outside review. for example in the incident in new orleans the commissioners unilaterally imposed discipline
8:28 pm
was overturned but by a former nfl commissioner. and they are recently imposed disciplinary over a rice they are portrayed as it was overturned after further review by a former federal judge appointed as a neutral arbitrator. the current system run unilaterally by the nfl simply does not work. it does not work for members as we have heard from your constituents as well as i am sure you have that continued to express distrust in displeasure in the current system of discipline. we have been passed by our membership of players to find solutions and collectively bargain with the nfl for better process. accordingly since early october this year we established a blue ribbon commission to advise us on matters of violence intervention and processes of discipline. i've included the names of the members of the commission in the submitted testimony and their bios.
8:29 pm
we are also fortunate pleased to see a member of fire and it felt commission ms. virginia seitz is disappointed with the assistance of experts and committee leaders we started a meaningful dialogue with their membership on ways to create programming and policies to address the societal issues. they requested the nfl join with us and appointed a commission in participating in the commission's work. the nfl has declined to do so but that does not stop us from having it. we cannot move ahead in bargaining by ourselves. we have attempted to engage the league in formal negotiations and bargaining to improve the conduct policy in the process by which it's posted the goodness or pay we provided a fair proposal over a month ago and despite receipt of a letter of response only this past sunday the nfl still -- collective bargaining. we believe a jointly bargain system is the only way to ensure football's approach to domestic violence is the credibility and effectiveness that the fans and
8:30 pm
partners and players have come to expect in respect such as our comprehensive related policies. we remain fully committed to addressing this issue in a meaningful way assessing -- that's the only way they can ensure the change happens. we remain ready to assist in the members of the committee and improving the way domestic violence is addressed in our country. thank you again for your time and we look forward to answering any questions you may have for us. >> thank you very much ms. patterson. i have to note at this point that there was an enormous amount of pressure coming from many directions, not necessarily the folks at the witness table but the folks that you work with for us not to have this hearing. we went ahead anyway so not everything, openness is not as commonly held a processes i would like. mr. joe torre executive vice president of baseball -- for
8:31 pm
national baseball league. >> good afternoon chairman rockefeller senator thune and members of the committee. i am joe torre executive vice president of baseball operations for major league baseball and i want to thank you for the opportunity to discuss the efforts we are undertaking to address the issue of domestic violence and sexual assault. the subject matter of this hearing is personally important to me as a person whose childhood was touched by domestic violence. i have come to understand that discussing the issue publicly has the potential to help millions of victims who believe there's too much suffering in silence. in 2002 my wife and i form the sacred home foundation to create educational programs aimed at ending cycle of domestic violence and i'm proud to say we have reached close to 50,000 youngsters in that time.
8:32 pm
through my work in this area including cochairing the attorney general's task force on children exposed to violence i have had the opportunity to work with truly outstanding individuals who have devoted their lives to working towards solving the issue of domestic violence in this country. commissioner selig has -- the understanding the major league baseball is as a social institution and as our national pastime has an obligation to set a positive example. the commission and i deplore domestic violence and crimes against women and families. we recognize the clear public expectation for the professional sports leagues to be leaders in addressing the social ill. some of our clubs already have taken a leading role in this issue. for example the seattle mariners have partnered with the washington state coalition against domestic violence on the statewide educational initiative
8:33 pm
called refuse to abuse. going forward the commissioner has instructed the staff to develop a stand-alone policy to address domestic violence and sexual assault prior to the upcoming season. although we are in the midst of developing this policy i would like to explain to the committee what we have done thus far in what we hope to do in the next few months. since september of 2014 as part of our education process representatives of major league baseball have met with over a dozen national and local organizations focused on addressing domestic violence and violence against women and/or providing services and support to victims. representatives from those groups consistently told us that while they are are obviously unsettled by the recent incidents of domestic violence in professional sports they believe that those incidents
8:34 pm
have shined a light on an issue often in the shadows. they believe and we agreed that sports leagues can make a difference. we have begun selecting a variety of organizations to serve on a joined mlb, mlbpa steering committee that will develop education and training materials for players, staff and their families. some of these initiatives include posting information on materials of major league and minor league ballparks and publicizing contact information for confidential hotlines. mlb intends to develop educational programs at each club specifically designed for the families and intimate partners of the players. we also are developing protocols that they must follow in response to domestic violence or sexual assault incidents that will include appropriate measures to ensure the safety of
8:35 pm
affected individuals providing confidential counseling and treatment for victims and providing counseling and intervention for perpetrators. major league baseball has selected san francisco-based group called futures without violence to help us develop and implement training and education programs for all of our players. futures has been partnering with the san francisco giants on these important issues for more than a decade. futures has arranged for dr. linda chamberlain to speak with the medical staffs of our clubs at mlb winter meetings in san diego this coming weekend. dr. chamberlain founded the alaska family violence prevention project and will be speaking to our club medical staff on the trauma informed approach to addressing domestic violence. in january of 2015 the top prospects of baseball will be educated on domestic violence and sexual assault.
8:36 pm
during mlb's of your development program beginning with mlb spring training this february every major and minor league player will be educated on issues relating to domestic violence, sexual assault and other organizations including violence prevention, a call to men and costs of esperanto. the staff of the mlb clubs in the commissioner's office will also be educated. the commissioner understand an important component of any policy covering domestic violence and sexual assault is appropriate discipline for players to engage in misconduct. presently the commissioner has the authority on mlb's collective bargaining agreement with the players association to discipline players for just cause for conduct that is materially detrimental or
8:37 pm
prejudicial in the best interests of baseball including but not limited to engage in conduct, engaging in conduct in violation of federal, state or local law. under a just clause -- just cause standard the commissioner's office is required to prove a violation by a player at an evidentiary hearing before a neutral arbitrator which can be difficult in the absence of a conviction or a plea or without cooperating witnesses or tangible evidence regarding the conduct. in addition our arbitrators in the past have been less inclined to uphold severe discipline under a just cause standard to off field conduct that does not impact the player players ability to perform. mlb has proposed revisions to its disciplinary policy covering nlb players that would make it easier for the commissioner to
8:38 pm
impose an appropriate level of discipline on players who commit acts of domestic violence or sexual assault and have that discipline be upheld in arbitration. mlb does not have the right to insist on any changes to player discipline and tell its collective bargaining agreement with the players association expires in december of 2016. however we are hopeful that we will come to an agreement with the players association prior to the start of the next season on disciplinary policy specifically tailored to domestic violence and sexual assault. as we told our orders two weeks ago major league baseball is committed to developing a culture in which his athletes implicitly understand their moral obligation as both men and roll models to speak out and act against crimes against women and families. we fully understand that educating over 4000 players from
8:39 pm
diverse backgrounds on an issue that many of them have not previously considered is not an easy undertaking however we intend to devote the time and the resources necessary to accomplish just that. thank you mr. chairman. >> thank you mr. torre. it's my mistake that i did not fit the beginning of this hearing that we face two challenges. we have a general rule that witnesses can speak for five minutes or less but not more and secondly we have votes starting at 4:00 so that puts pressure on all of us to get on with it. ms. virginia seitz outside counsel major league baseball players association. are you part of them or do you advise them? >> i've been doing it for the past 25 years years. i have an outside special counsel for most of the last 25 years to major league baseball players association.
8:40 pm
>> but they couldn't make it. >> i'm testifying on behalf of the executive director tony clark. he could attend today because he is chairing mlbpa annual board meeting and it would not surprise you to do one of the major topics at the meeting under discussion today and tomorrow is the fact that domestic violence and the work association has been doing will address. >> please proceed with your testimony. >> i will attempt to be brief. >> you don't need to be. that time is mine. you have your full five minutes. >> this fall the players association is working with mater league baseball to examine our current program addressing domestic violence which only covers players in light of recent events. we have been considering how needs to be modified and perhaps open to program for the entire baseball family based on accountability consequences and fairness. back in 2011 the players association and major league baseball negotiated and implemented a policy that addresses off field violent
8:41 pm
conduct including domestic violence in two ways. provides for both therapeutic intervention and disciplining cases of inappropriate and unlawful conduct. with respect to the first under a joint treatment program will utilize medical professionals all around the country to design therapeutic treatments for players who are charged with domestic violence related crim crimes. based on our understanding of domestic violence we have moved away from a one-size-fits-all approach in favor of individualized evaluation and case-by-case treatment for the player in and the family involved. with respect to discipline as mr. torre described the program gets the commissioner of baseball or employer club authority to discipline a player were an act of domestic violence has alleged. any conduct materials prejudicial to the best interest of baseball including any conduct that violates federal state or local law.
8:42 pm
it's critically important from the association's point of view that discipline be imposed for just cause and that it be subject to review before a neutral arbitrator. in addition to the program just describe the association maintains its own clinical psychiatrists on staff. he is well-known and frequently meets with players on a confidential basis to address mental health issues as they arise and that might lead to violence. as part of the association associations program reflects it's believed that the most respected treatment is that happens before violence can occur. our per current program a player may be disciplined manner to treatment developed by licensed professionals and may seek out their own clinical psychiatrist. we recognize over that more can be done so this fall we have begun a dialogue with mlb about modifications and improvements our program. that includes an enhanced public relations program to promote the understanding and eradication of
8:43 pm
domestic violence in our society. second and improved education and therapeutic program for major league baseball players and their families so potential issues can be addressed in appropriate confidential manner before violence occurs and so that all are aware of the resources that can provide assistance and prevent harm and third possible changes to the existing disciplinary structure for domestic violence offenses. like many organizations mlbpa has devoted an extraordinary amount of time and effort this fall to consulting with a wide range of experts and expert organizations in the domestic violence area. we have learned there is no one simple solution no one easy answer but we hope by working with the experts and gathering their recommendations we can develop a more effective program for all of baseball and become a credible voice in the ongoing national dialogue about how to end domestic violence. mr. chairman thank you for this opportunity but i'm happy to answer any questions you might have. >> thank you very much ms. seitz.
8:44 pm
ms. kathleen behrens executive vice president social responsibility and player program of the national basketball association. please proceed. >> thank you mr. chairman senator thune and members of the committee. appreciate your inviting us to this hearing today. my written testimony has been submitted to the committee so i will certainly try to be brief in the interest of time. we share your view however that a hearing like this is certainly helpful and expect it will generate not only thoughts but action and that can certainly help all of us at this table. and the nba executive vice president for social responsible in player programs and oversee all of our community programs and partnerships as well as all of our educational efforts with our players peter commissioner adam silberberg gretzky is not able to be here today but he had a long-standing commitment to lead the group of nba owners and executives on a trip to india this week.
8:45 pm
like the many and like others have spoken we have taken a fresh look at all of our programs policies and educational efforts over the course of the last few months and we have determined to her work especially in partnership with the players association that there is more we can and should be doing to better educate our players and to help prevent domestic violence from occurring in the first place. we work closely with the players association of educational programs for players and have determined that this year we need to do even more. we will be doing new awareness and educational sessions with our players, player family members, with team and league staff to help raise awareness, inspire leadership and hopefully prevent domestic violence from happening within the nba family. at the same time we no discipline as part of the process is well under collective bargaining agreement allows for discretion for the commissioner but also digital arbitration for our players.
8:46 pm
two processes we believe our fair trading and we want to stress to this committee and to others that we take this issue seriously. we are committed to doing all that we can to prevent it. we are committed to doing all we can to provide firm but fair discipline when necessary and we will continue to learn and improve in all of these areas. happy to answer any questions at the committee has. >> thank you very much for that. ms. michelle roberts is executive director of the nba players association. welcome. >> thank you. is mike mike on? now it's on. >> beautiful. >> to get my name is michelle roberts and i'm the executive director of the national basketball players association the labor me in -- union that represents nba players and collective bargaining could appreciate the committee's desire to explore the topic of
8:47 pm
domestic violence in professional sports. as a former and practice with the law firm -- my most rewarding pro bono project involved the representation for victims of domestic violence who are seeking civil protection orders here in d.c.. when i began work at the mbta in mid-september i was encouraged to learn that domestic violence is a topic that our players recognized needed to be addressed long before the events of recent months when the public's attention has turned so intently on the subject. recent events have given us opportunity to re-examine and to strengthen the already comprehensive team the nba and the mbta had in place and add even more safeguards with a focus on prevention and counseling. we want to make sure that every player, wife significant other and family member has a safe environment to seek help without fear of retaliation or
8:48 pm
additional harm. in doing so our recent efforts have brought together representatives of all members of the nba family in an unprecedented fashion. we also want to lead by example and create the kind of awareness and attention that this society wide problem deserves. let me first at bat to briefly describe some of the steps are players of already taken through collective bargaining and otherwise to address these issues. i do not exaggerate when i say we have begun to approach this topic with our players years before they even enter the nba. each june at our top 100 camp and bpa brings together elite high school basketball players together with their parents to help prepare them for competitive life of at the next level with an emphasis on character education and life skill development. close to 200 current nba players have attended the top 100 camp. during this weeklong program at
8:49 pm
the university of virginia campus the players work on their basketball skills but the majority is focused away from the court where our staff of overtired players counselors psychologists and psychiatric professionals lead large and small group discussions that impart focus on respect issues with girls and women. at this young and impressionable age we teach players part of embracing their manhood includes treating every woman with kindness and respect. at last june's camp for boys and their parents spend a great deal of time with a very effective educator and a detroit-based healing and to bring the center focusing on sexual assault. the education continues the moment a player enters the league with a transition program a four-day program between labor and management that likewise focuses on personal skill development and provides training on numerous topics relate to conduct including domestic violence.
8:50 pm
in past years judge glenda hatchet has been an effective voice delivering graphic and powerful presentations on the effects and consequences of sexual misconduct and abuse of women. to complete the burgers we not only raise awareness for our players before and upon entering the nba but we hold a team awareness meeting designed jointly by the nba and nbpa devoted solely to the topic of domestic violence. as we speak coli for johnson and ted bunch a co-founder of a call to men leading violence prevention organization are traveling in the country to me with every nba team for a session devoted solely to domestic violence awareness. the session supplement the around work done by our and bpa -- nbpa player program a group of players who work full time together with the joint labor management players education program to help players can front many of the
8:51 pm
emotional stress related issues that can be at the root of domestic conflict. our collective bargaining agreement lays out policies designed to -- under a uniform player's contract players are required to conduct themselves on and off the courts according to the highest standards of sportsmanship. the commission may impose a fine of suspension for conduct not performing to standards and morality and fair play and did not comply with federal state and local laws or our detriment to the nba. i see i'm running out of time so i will end on this final note. since i began my tenure i have determined the mandated levels of discipline are greater focus wanted on prevention of service at family members. i recently convened a group of
8:52 pm
nba mothers fathers spouses and significant others for an all-day session. those discussions were facilitated by domestic violence experts with the d.c. commission against domestic violence and identified the principle establishment of a hotline and counseling service that will encourage not just players but family members and other interested persons to seek out help without the fear of retaliation. many people are fearful but if they speak out about the possibility or occurrence of a domestic violence event they will expose themselves to public ridicule be alienated by friends and will be jeopardized and put a wrist their family financial health. everyone must be comfortable in a safe and confidential manner to seek help and with that and six minutes and 14 seconds i will conclude my presentation i'm happy to answer any questions. >> thank you very much.
8:53 pm
jessica berman vice president deputy general counsel to the national hockey league. welcome. >> thank you mr. chairman. thank you chairman, ranking member and members of the committee for inviting the national hockey league to testify regarding domestic violence in professional sports. the nhl takes seriously issues of domestic violence. we believe we have an obligation to raise awareness to provide education and penalize offenders all with the hope and intention of deterring future misconduct. to that end and working with the nhl pa the duly authorized collective bargaining the league has responsibly developed implemented and enforced strict policy practices and procedures regulating the off eyes conduct of the players will encompass in situations of domestic abuse. underlying these rules and policies is of comprehensive
8:54 pm
education program which has existed for at least the last decade. the league provides annual training for our players unafraid of critical social issues and these issues have included domestic abuse. this training and education has been delivered in a number of forms and contacts by multiple voices. those voices have included the nhl security department and medical professionals charged with administering substance abuse and behavior health program which is a charlie mr. program created by the nhl and nhl pa 1996. they meet with players on an annual basis on each team to discuss with them among other things personal conduct issues. in addition the nhl organized programs and this past year's program at two different breakout sessions the issue of domestic violence was addressed as well as other personal conduct issues. we believe that by making the
8:55 pm
message clear and reinforcing them on a regular basis that players are better prepared to appreciate them manage difficult problems that they face both for personal and professional standpoint and as a result they will be better equipped to avoid situations that will bring harm to themselves and to their families. in addition to our work in the area of education and raising awareness the collective bargaining agreement will remain in effect until at least september 15, 2020 terms and conditions for all nfl players. it grants grants the leak in its 30 clubs the authority to enforce the rules regulating players personal off eyes conduct in this responsibility has no continue to be exercised appropriately, fairly and judiciously. i will briefly go through a couple of the relevant provisions which provide the league without authority. in our collective bargaining agreement that commissioner has broad authority to act and impose discipline when a player
8:56 pm
is guilty of conduct and detrimental to or against the welfare of the league or the game of hockey. this language has been applied by the league office for wide array of personal conduct of eyes that are semi-believe it provides a semi-believe that provides elite with an adequate degree of discretion and authority. the standard form employment contract which is part of our agreement provides nhl teams with the authority for conduct that violates the rules that requires a player to conduct themselves on and off the rink according to the highest standards of honesty morality fair play and sportsmanship and to refrain from conduct detrimental to the best interest at the club the league in professional hockey generally. the national hockey league remains committed to the
8:57 pm
principle addressing players personal conduct problems and meaningful way and by doing so protect a maintaining both the integrity and generally the reputation of our players and our sport. we do not hesitate to take action and necessary and appropriate circumstances is most recently evidenced by the indefinite suspension issued to a player in the nhl who was recently charged with domestic violence offense. the player remains innocent until proven guilty. we felt the most appropriate course of action in the case was removed a player from the eyes until we are able to satisfy ourselves with what has transpired in nfl bridge is being provided with the opportunity to express their views today and we remain available to answer any questions that you may have. thank you. >> thank you ms. berman. steve fehr special counsel for the national hockey league players association. >> thank you and if i might i would like to say i have never lived in west virginia but i've
8:58 pm
long been an admirer of the senator from west virginia and i would like to thank you for all you have done not just in holding this hearing but throughout your career night wish you the best in 2015 and beyond. with regard to the executive directors and ms. roberts being able to show up senator thune i would like to save the executive director of the nhl pa manages to have the same last name as i do. we have a long-standing commitment overseas and i'm told the hearing was next week or yesterday. there could be advantages and disadvantages to going last. i'm not going to read from my prepared statement i have appreciated that you placed in the record and parts of it would be repetitive not only with what ms. berman said about the nhl but my colleague have said on behalf of a basketball and
8:59 pm
baseball players. let me make a few points. professional athletes face extraordinary public scrutiny on and off the field of play. they are often interested -- thrust in the spotlight and eight sometimes younger and nhl with precious few people experience during their lifetime. many of you expect players to be role models but in most cases their background and training has done little to assist them in assuming that role. in light of this nhl pa has worked to develop procedures and policies and programs to help the salmon and their families deal with these pressures. we believe our efforts have met with some success but it's a never-ending project. it starts with education. we stress education for our players beginning at a young age as ms. berman indicated much is done through the program in which services are available to all players involved in a situation involving domestic violence that includes families, that includes girlfriend.
9:00 pm
trained medical professionals are available for counseling and other services on a 24-hour basis. we also have a rookie orientation program which has been in place for two years now. ..
9:01 pm
>> and the results that can withstand the scrutiny. the fact that the arbitrator is independent and not an employee of the nhl as considerable credibility of the process and perceptions of any penalty seven post are just. i should've added that in this area can be complex and particularly with within interplay of potential criminal charges or actual criminal charges and disciplinary proceedings in the workplace. and finally, last week the commissioner said that there have been very few incidents that have come to light in recent years involving the nhl
9:02 pm
players in the bessette violence. and i do not say that to minimize the downplay the issue. and obviously it's a very important issue, even if there is one too many, we need to work together until there are none. so thank you for holding this hearing and i look forward to answering your questions. >> thank you very much. does making an announcement that it is difficult if the leadership holds the votes at 4:00 o'clock for us to have a reasonable hearing. sometime to get everyone to postpone that half an hour so that all members have a chance to speak and ask questions. and so it's much too important of a hearing to let a couple of votes get in the way of it. >> mr. vincent, as we discussed,
9:03 pm
last friday the former federal judge who heard the appeal of ray rice ruled that he had not misled the nfl commissioner roger development has competition in her seven page opinion, the judge discussions talked about the meetings stating that at the time of the june 16 meeting the nfl also knew that there was a camera inside the elevator and they thought it was likely there is a video from the camera. the various sources including nfl security have afforded the existence of such a video. rice had received this video during his case but the nfl never asked him for the second video. that is from the judge. the question is how did the commissioner not know that there was a second video inside the elevator of the june 16 meeting with mr. ray rice? >> well, senator, i would like to begin with the decision and the opinion letter. which i thought made it very
9:04 pm
clear the commissioner first disciplining and then coming back in imposing discipline again and that was a decision in our system. whereas when we read through this opinion letter, which made it obvious that if the commissioner imposed more severe discipline on the onset it would've made it difficult thing for her to rule any differently. so we have learned, and i think the commissioner has acknowledged the mistakes. we have ethnologist mistakes. this is all part of our evaluation as we look at the new personal conduct policy and we failed. the commissioner failed to impose a proper discipline on the ray rice case in the very beginning. the question is not whether the second video and how do you not know that. and senator come in the first video, heartless, gutless,
9:05 pm
despicable and i don't think there was a need for a second video to impose the proper discipline and we failed in that particular area. the commission has acknowledged that in the office has acknowledged that. we made a critical mistake. so whatever it's is the nfl making to ensure in the future that all the relevant available evidence is there before making a decision on whether and how to punish a player that is involved in a domestic violence or sexual assault case? >> i would begin, senator, having the right people at the table. having the right voices to evaluate and potentially investigate these horrific crimes. we know that the right people were not at the table. listening to the experts across the country and we have learned that the right voices and disciplines and process was not in place and we have learned from those mistakes and we have begun to implement elise at
9:06 pm
minimum having the right people in the right discussions of the right system by protecting the victims first and also the survivors and then secondly working toward a fair process but a firm discipline. >> when can we expect this investigation to conclude? >> we expect that at any time. we have all been put on notice in the offense as mr. mueller gives us a call or he wants to speak to be cooperative. but we are hoping and we are expecting that report to come to some closure shortly. >> will that be a public report that will detail the results of that investigation? >> i believe so. i just want to ask a question. this will be a quick question and giving others the opportunity to ask questions. a lot of the focus has been on finding the right penalty for a domestic violence. but would you agree that it is
9:07 pm
just outscored the solution and it requires those to use the same self-discipline that is allow them to excel at sports to renounce and end this ugly violence? >> i would say that it's a multifaceted approach would include personal accountability. but i do believe that it also includes education and counseling and some of the other efforts that ms. roberts spoke about particularly before players come into the league. we acknowledge accountability for the own actions is important and significant. and we do have took knowledge of players our sons and brothers and fathers and husbands. and we just have to assist in that development. >> yes or no. >> i would say that accountability is a critical part of any solution.
9:08 pm
>> ms. roberts? >> i would concur with what you both have set as low. >> i think that players are expected to be independent for their conduct in many ways. >> thank you. i'm just going to ask one more question. not a question that is new but a second question. then we will have a second round. this is directed to ms. roberts. the nba's policy on domestic violence is a minimum 10 game suspension for felony violent acts. and as i understand the policy league is not impose the penalties when there is no conviction. but many domestic violence cases do not result in conviction because of some of the factors that we have already developed as a culture culture of silence and all the rest of it the people withdraw or whatever. and too often victims don't cooperate with law enforcement for a variety of reasons and the
9:09 pm
charges are mysteriously dropped defendants the defendants will plead no contest. when i hear that, but let's look in all directions, but this has a different effect. in the last two years i'm aware of since nba players have been charged with domestic violence when they did not impose any penalties because there have been no convictions. and so my question is are you prepared to develop uniform policies that will address conduct for those who have been charged with domestic violence but there are no convictions? >> we committed to an opinion that the commissioner released two weeks ago relating to the suspension of our players and in that the commissioner acknowledged that we need to do more on this issue in terms of discipline going forward. both in terms of the due process and also not really relying on the criminal justice system in one of the things we learn from
9:10 pm
the experts, certainly senator mccaskill mentioned. but this has gone underreported and under sentence and we are committed to making sure that we are not just relying on the criminal just the system going forward. and that we are independently investigating charges that might be brought against the players and as such making sure that the commissioner who has discretion beyond us as you mentioned in the collective bargaining agreement does have discretion beyond that to impose a suspension that is longer as we did in the case of jeff taylor. so that is our plan going forward, that we can do an independent investigation and ensure due process for our players and make sure that the suspension is a firm suspension of a fair. >> in the existing situation,
9:11 pm
there is language that allows the commissioner even in the absence of a conviction if there is a reasonable basis to conclude that a player has been engaged in violence including domestic violence and counseling can be ordered and there is a basis to impose this discipline. so it's in there. having said that, i agree with you that we are continuing to have discussions about ways to improve our system to the extent that any absence of transparency and the ability to impose this would lead to discipline. >> you both indicate to me that you're moving away from the necessity of conviction before action can be taken. >> what i am suggesting is that there is language that does permit that there is a reasonable basis to conclude that a player has been a part of violent conduct. >> thank you for holding this
9:12 pm
hearing. and also for the witnesses who are taking time. >> the players are still at odds regarding changes and the discipline is handled. is that accurate? >> i would say yes. >> where this takes place with sexual assault, is that accurate? >> i would say that that is accurate in general.
9:13 pm
and. >> i would not say that. >> i would say that that is accurate. we want to have confidence in terms of this and we would like to understand how that discipline applies. and that would be a part of it. but i am saying that it isn't accurate. >> i'm trying to get to the point as to whether or not they are saying it is okay to knock out a woman with one punch on wednesday and we do not condone domestic violence.
9:14 pm
>> was a 12 game suspension appropriate for that in the rewrites case? >> i don't know that that was appropriate. >> we think it is inappropriate and unfair handling of players and their issues. >> what would be an appropriate suspension for an individual and they are not in the business of representing this membership both under the law and under the collective bargaining. >> you are either stopping, for stopping sexual assault or you're not. >> i'm not suggesting that we are condoning this either. >> you believe that domestic violence is far more important
9:15 pm
than the union of collective bargaining? >> i would agree that therefore it is more important, but that is outside of the scope of labor. i agree that these issues are more important yet. >> mr. chairman, i have no more questions the map we've done a very good job on the ones you have asked. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. i grew up with professional sports and we are the only senator up here that has all four teams. and my dad is a sportswriter and then became a general columnist and i would but we would get tickets at nfl games and we would watch a 12 years old and i would stand outside the locker room and he would be the last one out. there would be some rather inebriated fans and he was only 5-foot 6 inches. but they kept him going and he
9:16 pm
said that it was a team effort. i always have looked at was that way and i look at it from another way knowing what it's like when our office took on a difficult case against kirby puckett, who is an icon and our in our state and did not win that case, but i can understand the culture and how difficult it is to win those cases in the court of law. so i appreciate the questions were asked about this beyond the courtroom. so i also understand what it's like to take on domestic violence case. we had a poster outside of the border was a woman with a band-aid on her know knows and the words under the poster said if your kids that will go to jail. and i appreciated your story and you telling us about your own life, and i know how difficult it is, so thank you much.
9:17 pm
my question is really about how to make sure that these criminal cases move forward. i was disturbed by her words and "the new york times" and "washington post" that this may be discouraging, that women to come forward like wives or partners of players going forward to law enforcement, the only way to stop the cycle is not only what i hope you're all doing now with a new approach to these issues, having tough penalties, but i also think you have to make sure that people are not just discouraged from going forward. so i would just like to ask this question of the four league representatives that are here, and that is that your teams ever discourage people that come to them, the owners or the coaches, from going forward with domestic violence cases to law enforcement. and you can control them from doing that to make sure that
9:18 pm
going forward that this does not happen again. i would start with you, mr. vincent. >> senator, we hope that doesn't occur. and that is the culture that we have to break and the cycle that we have to break as we look at implementing our new policy. and we talk about personal accountability and also extensively about cooperative accountability. and we have embedded are selves let google responds and making sure that the local support is in place. >> i have a very focused question about not stopping people from going forward to law enforcement, not discouraging them. do you have -- is there a way to
9:19 pm
control the coaches and team owners by saying that you cannot do that if someone comes forward you have to encourage them to go on enforcement? >> yes, as part of the education that something we are educating on. >> thank you very much. >> i wholeheartedly agree with you on not discouraging victims from coming forward because that would be the worst thing that would happen and right now you are influencing someone cannot go forward and law enforcement. and that includes the negotiable issue. >> our teams are we have owners
9:20 pm
meetings and i speak to every manager and it is about doing things the right way and certainly as a human being it's much more important. >> i appreciate that. that we have a big difference in collective bargaining. >> senator, yes. that's part of our education efforts and we are making that clear. >> yes, i am unaware of any discouragement into the contrary we have this where the nhl centralizes 30 department with contact at every local team or something like that is going on and i would hope that it would be something that we are hearing
9:21 pm
about. because it would violate the policy. >> thank you. >> order of appearance. [inaudible conversations] >> first, let me correct on the record on the nba questions about punishment. i have looked at the articles on counseling for violent misconduct and let me make sure that the record is clear that
9:22 pm
the most the commissioner can do with violence without a conviction is counseling. and. >> that includes a the way we are doing this is recently. that discretion in the language is referred to and it's not necessarily related to a violation or conviction. >> he has a domestic violence unit in kansas city. when i began that in the '90s, the detectives told me that we really can't do these cases and the victims won't come forward. the victims refuse to testify.
9:23 pm
so why are you doing this and why are you making us go through the motion to try to prosecute domestic violence and i said we should shut this down and he looked at me and said that we don't have victims in homicide cases. and we managed to put a case together. based on an investigation as to workers. based on witnesses testimony to witness the events. based on physical evidence and 911 calls and the point this out because i think one of the biggest problems that you all have at large is this notion that you can all sit back and wait to see if there is a criminal prosecution and conviction. and i think you all know that the pressure that is brought to bear on that from the moment and an arrest is made or from the moment that the tv finds out, because many times you all know that you have a lot of police of
9:24 pm
theirs and they work for you. and i know this for a fact, when i was a prosecutor i got the call that chris carter was involved in something in westport and i immediately heard from the team. about what i should and shouldn't do and so what we really have to do here is look to see what you will doing independently to investigate these cases and roger goodell didn't see it and it's his responsibility to ask question is there another thing that we need to see before we do the punishment. and there is not a process in place and let me just give you one example and i think that we should say that major league baseball commissioner bud see lake has never sanctioned,
9:25 pm
never. that the commissioner level, that has never occurred. francisco rodriguez, this is based on -- and by the way i found this just googling around on my ipod last night. this wasn't prepared by my staff and anybody can do this and it just looks into the record of rodriguez written in print and in 2005 based testimony, there was a young lady that he hit so hard that she was hospitalized in venezuela and he then convinced her to move to the united states at him and in 2010 he assaulted her father at the stadium pulling him out of the family lounge and he said that we need to keep it at home.
9:26 pm
he was prosecuted for that and during the prosecution of that they had order of protection and took cannot contact the young lady or father. and it was someone who was convicted of the assault of her father and given one year of anger management. and he then went on to the milwaukee brewers and in 2012 he was arrested at 2:40 a.m. and a girlfriend is huddled in the home and tells everyone the what is occurring. excuse me, that is my phone, they tell everybody what has occurred and then they arrest him and there is staff at the home and he is also from venezuela. so the case is prosecuted because guess where the victim
9:27 pm
and the housekeeper went. they went to venezuela. so he becomes a free agent and guess where he is in 2014. use back in milwaukee pitching in the all-stars game and nothing has ever happened to him in terms of baseball. so now, i know that if taken all my time. but i really wanted to get that story out there. what i would like for the record, and i will stick around for another round. i want to know from each of you how serious is relieved about an independent investigation into the facts, or how content are you to sit back and say that maybe she won't go through with it. maybe she won't come forward. and if there is not a conviction we are off the hook. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you. >> will the votes start out 4:10 p.m.? [inaudible conversations] >> my question is for
9:28 pm
mr. vincent. we know that the commissioner recently changed the domestic violence policy to require a six-game suspension for first offenses and we also know that after he changed that policy mr. roger goodell personally called ray rice. what is the content of the conversation? >> i wasn't working calling mr. ray rice. >> this has been widely reported in and my understanding is that it was to reassure him that this would be applied rather than retroactively. and you're not aware of it? >> no, sir. >> sir. >> okay, i'd like to offer you these questions and you can get back to the committee because my question for you about that is is this normal? does the we consider this appropriate as a general proposition interacting directly with players are subject to disciplinary proceedings, or was this something that goes to the
9:29 pm
culture that the senator spoke of in his opening statement which is to get the player back on the field, the financial incentives for getting the player back on the field. then i found it odd and i found nothing in her policies or procedures that would indicate that it was appropriate for the commissioner of the football league to reassure them that everything was just fine. >> i will investigate that and get back to you. >> thank you, the nfl handling of domestic violence is illogical a logical in my opinion, especially when you look at the strict treatment of athletes who violate the policy. take mr. gordon who was suspended for an entire season for testing positive for marijuana during the off-season. this imbalanced treatment actually happens all the time. espn analyzed the case and found that players are guilty of domestic violence between 2000 and 2014, the analysis showed
9:30 pm
that in 80% of the cases the nfl suspended players for almost one game only or not at all for domestic violence, while in comparison 82% of substance abuse cases the nfl handed out suspensions of four games or more. as the we consider that to be an inconsistency that has to be corrected going forward enact. >> yes, sir, that is one of the things we have been looking at that we have been evaluating. i think that the staffers in the commissioner, when you learn the complexities in child abuse domestic assault, we fail in that area to punish and to hold accountable and i know recently and the players association, the most recent proposal. this is one of the complexities that we have. one is at the appropriate time to take someone off the field. the most recent proposals that you need a conviction and we strongly does agree with that. we disagree he does agree that there needs to be a felony or
9:31 pm
conviction to remove someone off the field. >> where are the owners in all of this and it seems to be particular with the nfl and the leverages are with the individual teams and a lot of the difficulties are within the individual teams and the teams are not represented at this table and am wondering what leverage you think the nfl can exercise with respect to interactions because certainly in the ray rice case the problem was systemwide but in particular with the organization and i'm wondering how those interactions are going and i think the senator and others are referring to the what the bargaining process that is part of it. but really a lot of the challenges of the financial incentives of the owners or to get the player back on the field and figure that the fans will forgive them in the end. >> our last two meetings, we have had one coming. it's been the focus to make sure
9:32 pm
that we are consistent with penalty process. >> what leverage are you prepared to talk about? revenue the owners are bigger than us in the league and am wondering what you are prepared to do china get the owners to participate in this new system of accountability? >> we are looking at all options. one of the things that we are talking about is maybe the removal of draft picks and you have to do things to really hit to hold things accountable. all things are on the table. we are discussing all options to make sure that everyone is held accountable including the player and staff, law enforcement is working with the team, as well as they themselves. >> thank you. i'm going to go vote. >> is that a quorum call? i can't see it. who's next?
9:33 pm
>> double-click your enact this question is for you. as you mentioned you and your wife founded the safe at home foundation to educate young people about domestic violence. that includes ending the cycle of domestic violence and so thank you for taking them on. can you tell us about this and what education strategy you have found to be most effective in preventing domestic violence before it starts and what could be incorporated from your foundation into this? >> when we first started the foundation, we were deciding upon which way to approach this as we grew up in that environment and i didn't really find out until later on in life that a lot of my insecurities came from what was going on in my home and then i got these
9:34 pm
views from my mom. having been a child, i played baseball. i had a place to hide. not a lot of youngsters are that lucky. i went to middle school and started talking to them not about baseball and i said i want to with its latest camera crew behind you because you're going to have a first pole. speaking to the youngsters come i looked out there and i got six or seven that are shaking their heads like this and so the most important thing that we had was the council on each one of the rooms and we named him after margaret's place. and what we do is let the kids know that it's not their fault and they are not the only ones going through this. when i grow up i thought i was the only one i was embarrassed to share with anyone. and we've had a number in the
9:35 pm
program, we have here pure leadership programs. we just don't region of kids and that is our issue, for me. because i don't believe that they are bad kids but i think that kids do bad things very and just from my experience with the attorney general and the task force going around and listening to so many different things, gang members, tribal communities, you realize how many layers of domestic violence that there are and what we try to do with these youngsters are come through our program is to make them think that their future -- make them understand that their future is out there and it's not like when they leave school, it's just going with a strong personality that, the first one that they see. educating them to the point of making them feel pretty good about themselves. >> thank you, senator.
9:36 pm
>> thank you, mr. chairman. one thing that i wanted to note up front was that all of you are here. we appreciate that you are here testifying today. but the commissioner, doctor caddell, bud selig, and others, they were all asked to be here. and leadership does start at the top. and i do think that it's convenient that none of them were able to appear today and it does say something about where does the level of this come because i think they should all be here today and while i am appreciative that you have been willing to appear in her stead, i think that that does say something about how big of a commitment that they will be willing to be honest and that doesn't need to lead to the owners as well have to take responsibility for what happens here and i want to associate
9:37 pm
myself with the comments of senator mccaskill because you do need to establish an investigative process that do not result in criminal convictions and this is imperative because you have to hold yourself to a higher standard and the bottom line is that many victims are not going to come forward because of the financial pressure and the social pressure that they face and the terror that they face, but that does not alleviate your responsibility to get the facts look at the evidence and to impose discipline even if the victim is too terrified to come forward. in the same i want to follow up with the question of senator klobuchar about the reports about those that are being encouraged or perhaps discourage not come forward or an instance
9:38 pm
in which senator mccaskill gave which one was flown to another country. i believe that as you look at your policies that the sanctions should be as severe for this type of witness tampering as it should be for the underlying violence act. because that is what this is, witness tampering. and if you put those sanctions in place we will make clear that if someone is a victim of domestic or sexual violence that neither the coaches or the players or anyone else should be interfering with their ability to come forward or the way that they are able to have the support that they need as victims of crime. so i would like to follow up with questions on an issue as i look to you, ms. roberts and
9:39 pm
ms. patterson, one of the things i'm concerned about as i is i listened to the testimony today is that in terms of the players who decided to that they not hide behind the collective bargaining process or agreement and when it comes to basic accountability and basic responsibility for not committing crimes. because this is what they are, it is a crime. crimes of violence against women and sexual violence against women or as we have seen violence against children. and so as i look at this, i want to use an example with mr. roberts and a recent situation of this against jeff taylor who was a charlotte hornets player and i understand he received a 24 game suspension for a condition for beating his
9:40 pm
girlfriend. and what i saw is the union complained that that was excessive and as i understand it the player had accepted this and i have to say that your response or the union's response said that this is excessive and this highlights the problem that we are facing today. and it is discussing the would say that. so i wanted to address that. what we do in those situations and why do you believe that and if we are going to get this issue, this has to be the players and the responsibility of blue owners and everyone has to have a hand at this. so i would like to know what you are thinking. >> i'm happy to answer your question. and let me declare that some
9:41 pm
punishment was not wanted. of course it was. and we expected them to impose punishment and they did. we have this which we had a disagreement about that indicated that that was excessive punishment. and so again, opposition was that they required us to collectively bargain is if there was going to be some imposition of punishment. having said that, the play was never discouraged from accepting responsibility. it was his right to grieve or not to grieve and i said to him to his face and behind his back bed we endorse this decision for him to take responsibility for what he did and the matter is closed. but my only point is this. while we all agree that this is a very serious thing and we need to take it seriously, we don't
9:42 pm
believe that we need to abandon due process and that's the only point. and so it simply meant that they were in the four corners of this and we had a disagreement about this that goes beyond the scope of what we collectively bargained for, but i don't want you or anyone to assume that the national basketball players association does not take this seriously because we do and i have spent the last two weeks visiting with everyone and i intend to see them in the next two months and every time i meet with them i made clear to them that he will not tolerate this kind of conduct and it's not the nfl problem, it's our problem as well and i don't want this on this matter to in any way bother our to make sure this goes away. >> you are over your time. senator blumenthal is next and then i will go vote.
9:43 pm
and we've got to keep it going. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for having this hearing and i would like to join in expressing my admiration for your preceding in spite of the obstacles and some that have been raised and thank all of you for being here. we have sports heroes here with us. and i'm grateful to each of you for coming to talk to us today and i want to talk about the people who are not your and the owners and in a certain sense they are the bosses. they are going to be the ones who make the ultimate decision. so we will talk the financial reality that words and promises are a lot more difficult than actions. so i am looking for a way to impose accountability. beyond a hearing and beyond negotiation and an accountability that means
9:44 pm
something in dollars and also sense. by now the professional leagues represented here are not only the object of public scrutiny but the beneficiary of huge benefits in the form of tax breaks and subsidies and as well as the antitrust exemptions. and today i am proposing that we end this blank check. this antitrust that has enabled them to successfully negotiate together is no other corporations would be permitted to do under any laws. for literally billions of dollars and that exemption should be continued upon doing the right thing in not only talking about this but by doing it. and by asking i mean that we should be investigating competence of lee and
9:45 pm
aggressively and imposing sanctions as a consequence of that investigation and adopting a process that has been sorely lacking and mr. vincent is the reason why they were so nervous is because there was no process as they have also observed. and maybe most important looking forward that hasn't been mentioned here is a to the organizations and groups that provide assistance to the survivors and victims of domestic violence within your families and across the united states. i would like to thank the gentleman for his example because i think that men have a vital role which is the reason why players can be such role models and positive role models at that, for others and why they can be such positive role models and providing tangible financial
9:46 pm
assistance, which you have not yet done for all the talk kerry for advocacy groups and organizations that are so pivotal in fighting domestic violence and i'm asking for a commitment that you will support this accountability and that you will support the groups that assist victims and survivors and in the interest of time i'm going to ask if there is anyone here who would not make that commitment? by the absence of a response i'm going to assume that you would agree with me that that kind of commitment is necessary and i'm not asking you to continue what you have done but for a substantial increase in that assist in to the hot lines and the shelters and all the service
9:47 pm
groups and i hope you all join in that commitment. so let me ask what is the timeline for you and the league to adopt a process for imposing punishment within the nfl when asked the commissioner had stated in the earlier press conference that he would like to have a new policy in place by the super bowl and that would be a way to. >> what is the process that will provide for owners to a proof that process? >> next week we actually have the owners meeting where we can talk about some of the things that we have learned. we have heard much about the process of accountability and we are hoping to have within the next two weeks a clarity on the position on where we are as far as this process and consistent and clear process moving forward. >> the bill that i propose would
9:48 pm
sunset the professional antitrust exemption under the 1961 sports broadcasting act and the comparable provisions one year after the bill's enactment. it would authorize the commission to provide a report to congress and it would allow congress to reauthorize exemptions based in part on commitments to a public service organizations. how much is the nfl going to commit to those organizations? >> we have made substantial commitments, five years commitments to both the national domestic violence hotline and others. and $25 million per year. >> you've made a commitment to this? >> yes, sir. >> are going to make the comparable sides to other
9:49 pm
organizations. >> i just want to make sure as we try to get the rest of these numbers end. >> who can make this commitment? >> that something that we have discussed with our expert who are the leading organizations at the grassroots level that need the support to support the families and support the nfl personnel and for that, that is a collective decision that was made for us to support the national domestic violence hotline and resource. >> thank you to all of you. i'm sorry that my time has expired. >> thank you. i want to thank the ranking member for saying that we should revisit this after the new year when i assume you'll be the chairperson. because this issue of accountability keeps coming up. so we should revisit this and see the progress. i'm going to go very quickly as
9:50 pm
we have recalled. mr. vincent you are saying that you are seeking to help fund a lot of the charities in your opening statement about preventing domestic violence and the like. that is true. and you often need more resources. and so mr. joe torre, the major league baseball does not have a tax exempt status. >> that is correct. >> is that hurt your bottom line? >> i don't think so. >> okay so i don't think so either. >> i think that we are doing well. >> the cbo says that if we remove those leagues, unlike major league ace ball, there's a number of those that have a tax exempt that is and they say that if we remove that, it would yield millions of dollars per
9:51 pm
year annually back to the taxpayers. so my question to you is understanding that these organizations need more funding, why does the nfl need a tax exempt status on what could be redirecting the money for trent to domestic violence and treatment programs. >> let me make it clear that all revenues -- >> you don't have to enumerate that for the record. i am familiar with individual team revenues and i'm simply asking you right now, i have to justify to my constituents why the nfl and the multibillion dollar organization has a tax exempt status. do you believe that unlike the major league baseball individuals, but you should have tax exempt status? >> we are ram like a trade association and are very similar. >> so you think that you should continue to enjoy a tax exempt status that baseball doesn't have? >> it's not to enjoy.
9:52 pm
that's how we are currently ranked. our revenues are taxed. and senator, i have seen your proposal and i do believe that when we combine public and private resources we can fund the intervention and the prevention with some of the things i've seen in your proposal, this is how we collectively and privately and publicly with resources, we can make a difference in the area of domestic violence and sexual assault. >> i appreciate that and the charity. but my point is that our these as the senator said, are these exemptions to a lot of laws that enjoyed tax exempt status? that money could be saving taxpayers millions of dollars annually and that could be used to invest in these programs right now to see if we have to
9:53 pm
rely on the charity of the nfl, and i don't think that that is adequate. but i feel fortunate having played college football to have a lot of friends at the plate in the nfl and the nba and some friends that are still in the nfl and the nba and i have been described as having these incredible resources and they let us know the we are here for you, you're stuck at a club and can't get a ride in our inebriated, the nfl is therefore you and you can call as a thank you for shaking your head. and so one of the concerns that i had when it comes to calling that team for issues of domestic violence, that often the incentive for what i know about my fellow players and i don't know the nba nfl players, they will keep that as keeping it
9:54 pm
quiet. and that includes bringing this to a problem. .. from friends who have played and they are playing in the nfl nba
9:55 pm
that the system will be changed in a way that puts the victims needs and concerns and family situations ahead of that player's ability to remain on the field and the corporate interests that exist to keep that player from being productive. and i would like representative to do so when i'm done. >> that is at the core of what we are talking about and what we have been evaluating to make sure the victim and the survivors have the support they need. we recognize that we have to break the culture of silence. the programs that you mentioned, the last four years that was my soul responsibility. player programs and services. it's a shared responsibility. those programs are put in place and collaboration with the players association to assist families. we want to encourage the families to seek out proper help, proper assistance. i can assure you moving forward in the area of domestic violence sexual assault and child abuse that we want to make sure we break out the silence of the
9:56 pm
victims and survivors are safe. >> senator i would make the same assurance that part of our training and education program we are rolling out with their teams and have shared at the highest levels is to make sure that this is not something that is discouraged but encouraged both for people to get help but also to report behavior that is in violation of certainly any criminal law and any violation of the nba's codes of conduct. >> that is the accountability way to make sure the assistants are changing and for the record it's ridiculous that the nfl and other sports teams and joy tax status. >> thank you senator bucher and thank you for processing that point. i don't think i was time for questions and i will submit questions for the record but that particular issue is of interest to me and obviously the fact that the baseball
9:57 pm
association and basketball association don't enjoy that tax-exempt status and the nfl continues it. we saw this case with donald sterling and we saw immediate and swift action. in fact michael jordan praised the nba's same big -- saying a powerful message was sent that there could be no tolerance, zero tolerance for racism and hatred. so it's clear that in some cases these organizations can act swiftly and do act swiftly. the question is in this issue of domestic violence why you don't and i think what we are hearing from many of my colleagues today is what is the culture within these organizations that prevent it from acting as swiftly as was in the case of donald sterling. so i'm going to submit some questions for the record but i also too want to be on record that the nfl i'm hearing from my
9:58 pm
constituents as i have raised this issue related to what is a very hateful name in association with the nfl that my constituents now are flabbergasted that the nfl continues to enjoy a tax exempt status. for what purpose and yet on these issues of having a name of hatred for a team and then having these cases of domestic violence to say nothing of the incidence of what happened in florida with players the nfl is not showing the leadership that i believe it should and it certainly doesn't deserve a tax exempt status. i'm going to submit further questions for the record and i want to thank my colleague senator mccaskill for her leadership and certainly want to work with her in her role as previously understanding these issues from a prosecutorial perspective of how we can get cultural issues ingrained into
9:59 pm
these institutions. i'm going to turn the gavel over to an thank you. >> i'm going to state on the record that i'm going to miss a vote. i think i would vote aye on the nominee that we are voting on right now in the record should reflect that but i'm going to skip that vote because they think the questions that need to be asked here in the long run can have more impact on a problem that i think it's pervasive and important than one more vote in a confirmation that's going to occur with or without my vote. i'm going to stick around to mr. rubio u. will have an opportunity to question and hopefully we'll get another chance. >> thank you madam chairwoman and thank you for being here. i'm going to limit my colleagu colleague -- comments. society as a whole in the sport i am most familiar with and the city that has the franchise, you may not know this but i would have played in the nfl had it not been for my lack of size, speed or talent but that was my goal today want to begin by saying mr. vincent i have the highest respect for you.
10:00 pm
even though we have never met we have friends in, and your reputation in many circles is as high as i have ever heard. certainly as a dolphin fan i remember drafting a 1992 and i was sorry to see you go in 1996 when she may let you go. i appreciate your service both as a player in the nflpa and now for the leak. i do want to make two points about the nfl that are important in asking this question. the nfl doesn't just play for three hours on sunday monday and thursday nights. the nfl is a 24-hour, seven-day weekend ever that actively wants americans to admire and emulate the people of puts on the field. once are again people to wear and this is true of all i want to focus on the nfl pretty wants young people like my sons and they want to wear the same shoes, to wear their jerseys to buy the same and use the same products.

5 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on